Thornton 'disappointed' about Winter Classic cancellation

678858.jpg

Thornton 'disappointed' about Winter Classic cancellation

The NHL players are feeling the pain of hockey fans when it comes to Fridays cancellation of the Winter Classic. But it also hasnt hurt their funny bone when it comes to a sense of gallows humor around a lockout situation that appears grim at first glance.

Were all disappointed that it had to come to the Winter Classic being cancelled. I know that personally I just want to get back to work, said Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton, who was making a Saturday morning appearance at the Thomas Joyce Memorial Playground 5K in South Boston on Saturday morning. "But (Bettman) makes 8 million a year, doesnt he? You expect he would have 250 grand kicking around in an ash tray somewhere to keep the Winter Classic alive."

Thornton was clearly kidding while taking a dig at NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a CBA negotiation thats grown contentious in the 50 days since the lockout began. The 250,000 he referenced is the early November contractual payment to the University of Michigan that the NHL avoided by cancelling the Winter Classic on Nov. 2. While the players are still feeling embattled by the two months worth of paychecks wiped out by the lockout, there are glimmers of hope amid the mounting cancellations.

The No. 2 in command for the NHL, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, and NHLPA, head counsel Steve Fehr, were scheduled to meet at an undisclosed location on Saturday afternoon to continue negotiations. It will be the first face-to-face meeting for the two sides in CBA negotiations since the acrimonious Oct. 18 exchange of ideas at the NHLPA offices in Toronto.
It will also be the first chance for both sides to offer olive branches in negotiations including the owners footing a portion of the make whole provision that appears to be the biggest sticking point for the players. In essence its a cap on escrow and will provide strict guidelines for just how much of a bit the NHL owners can take out of existing NHL contracts before things drop down to a strict 5050 split in Hockey Related Revenue.

The overwhelming question is why it took this long and the cancellation of a Winter Classic game expected to draw in upwards of 120,000 spectators to spur on both sides toward a discussion. But all Thornton and the rest of the NHL players care about at this point is getting back to work, and making sure there is a 2012-13 regular season along with a new CBA that they can live within.

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

red_sox_craig_kimbrel_052517.jpg

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, lefthanded hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike 3 — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.